by Stephanie Coles
I’m a new addition to the Wells Bring Hope team. As I was learning more about the organization, I spent time reading and watching videos from the field. One story in particular stuck with me. A mother living in Zinder, Niger tells of her life before a well for safe water came to her village. She said, “Before the new well, I lost five of my children because I had to leave them alone all day when I went to get water and they had nothing to eat or drink all day long.” The cruelty of being forced to choose whether or not to leave her children in order to get the ultimate necessity, water, is devastating. It is an incomprehensible choice to the vast majority of us who will, thankfully, never have to experience anything like it.
I write for Wells Bring Hope because I believe in the cause. In a world where tragedy is commonplace on the news each night, I want to help draw attention to what isn’t often talked about: people are still struggling to get the basic necessities that most of us take for granted.
In order to help understand the true story of Niger, I thought it would be helpful to quantify their struggle. Using data provided by the World Bank Group, a worldwide organization working to fight poverty, I was able to view their situation through an analytical lens.
(Note: Scroll down in frame to change date of data)
In 1990, the average life expectancy of a child born in Niger was only 43.5 years. At that time, only 33.7 percent of people had regular access to safe water. Through investments in improving access to clean water, a child born in 2015 can expect to live more than 16 years longer than a child born in 1990. That is a massive improvement to quality of life in only 25 years.
However, Niger is still lagging behind more than 90 percent of the world’s average life expectancy at birth. In fact, there is not a single country outside of Africa that is worse off.
The good news is we can all help! While regular access to safe water is only one of many indicators that can affect life expectancy, there is a powerful correlation. Donating to Wells Bring Hope helps provide clean water access where it is desperately needed. Once the need to walk miles for water is gone, time is freed up and possibilities are opened. At Wells Bring Hope, we engage with communities for 15 years after the wells are drilled to teach basic hygiene, drip farming, and provide microfinance training. Staying involved ensures communities are equipped for long term success. Although having access to safe water is just the first step in transforming lives, it is something we can all support to encourage further change for the people of Niger.